WKU coach takes Kentucky’s decision not to schedule them as a compliment

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

John Calipari won’t schedule UK’s cross-state foe, and there might be a reason for that

Kentucky’s basketball schedule, assuming it holds given the rapid rise of COVID-19 across the country, features heavyweights such as Kansas, Notre Dame, UCLA, Louisville and the like. Yet, one of the UK’s in-state rivals, Western Kentucky, wants in.

WKU head coach Rick Stansbury appears to be poking the bear in hopes of waking up Coach Cal and Co.

“We would love to play Kentucky,” Stansbury said. “Do I understand why they don’t want to play us? I do. If I’m Kentucky, why take the chance on playing Western Kentucky?”

Should Kentucky play Western Kentucky?

If COVID-19 plays a role in Kentucky’s schedule — as in eliminating some of their non-conference games — then WKU could be a late addition. But for now, the Wildcats have no obligation to put the Hilltoppers on the schedule. As Stansbury so willingly points out, UK doesn’t benefit from having their little brother on the docket.

WKU’s official Twitter account took a shot of sorts at Kentucky when the ‘Cats announced their schedule, noting their absence. “If you’re making the C-USA tour, give us a call back sometime! We’re ready and right down the road,” the Hilltoppers stated on July 7. “Oh, and our previous offer for these dates still stands. Play us and we’ll give the full guarantee check to charity to help within our state.”

Stansbury does argue that renewing the rivalry would be good for basketball in the state, which is a clear motivator for both sides.

“I talked about it, and I think Cal was trying to do everything he could to try and get the game to work out,” Stansbury said. “I do understand. Doesn’t mean I have to really like it. I look at it as a respect. Someone don’t want to play us, they play someone else in your league. I don’t look at the negatives, I look at the positives.”

As of now, the two sides appear far apart on any prospective series. The onus is on Kentucky, as WKU would clearly meet any standard necessary to put UK on its schedule.

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